How to Add Analytics to Your Application with a BI Portal

By October 12, 2017BI Portal
developer working at a desktop downloading Izenda software for a BI portal

When a software company needs to get their application to market quickly, there might not be time to fully integrate analytics in phase one. That’s an opportunity to implement a self-service BI portal. A fully branded self-service analytics portal from Izenda can help you meet your release deadlines.

Izenda’s self-service BI portal offers all the features our embedded product delivers, including the ability to white label and customize analytics. Plus, our administrative UI allows management of analytics by non-technical users such as business process analysts.

How do you get an standalone portal instance of Izenda up and running? Here’s a high-level overview of the process from one of our engineers.

To set up a self-service portal you’ll host two sites on your infrastructure through IIS – the standalone UI (front end) and the API (backend).

Steps to Set Up a Self-Service Portal

1. First, download and unzip the compressed file directories using the links from Izenda.

2. Set up two sites in Windows Server with Internet Information Services (IIS) Web Server. One for the Izenda UI and one for the Izenda API.

3. Point the front end and back end sites at the proper directories. The StandaloneUI directory will be for the Izenda UI site and the API directory will be for the Izenda API site.

4. Add the proper permissions to each site’s security settings. These permissions ensure that Izenda can properly interact with the API directory to update files and create logs.

5. Reset IIS, and then navigate to the Izenda UI site.

6. The first thing you’ll be prompted to do is to enter the connection string to your configuration database. This would most likely be an empty database on your database server to host all of Izenda’s configuration data. It could also be an existing reporting database, but Izenda recommends keeping configuration data and reporting data in separate databases.

7. Hit connect. This creates an alert box during connection. Closing this box takes you to the Izenda login screen.

8. Log in using the credentials Izenda has provided. On the Settings page, you can enter the license key you’ve been given.

9. From this point, you’ll connect to reporting data sources, set up users, perform data model setup and begin creating reports and dashboards.

Here’s a short video that walks you through the steps of setting up BI portal instance.

Setting Up an Instance of Izenda’s BI Portal

Video Transcript

This video is a step-by-step guide to installation of an independent BI Portal instance of Izenda. This guide will work under the assumption that the user has downloaded the appropriate file directories from the Izenda download site.

This includes the Izenda front-end package which has the default name of “App”, and the Izenda back-end package with the default name of “API”. Additionally, for the hosting server for this instance, the user should utilize Windows Server with Internet Information Services, or IIS, Web Server for setup. Also, be sure to open the Installation guide from the Izenda Wiki as an additional resource that can be useful as you follow along.

The user will notice that the front- and back-end packages are currently compressed. Extract the contents of these packages into an easy to find location. Izenda recommends something like C:\inetpub\wwwroot\izenda\App and Izenda\API.

Izenda can be installed in a number of configurations including as a new application to an existing website or a new virtual application under an existing website. In this case, the user will right click the local connection and select the “Add Website” option from the menu. Then the user will give the new website a name, in this example, we’ll name the site “IzendaApp”. In this walkthrough, we will leave the Application pool name the same as the website’s name.

Next, click the ellipses next to the Physical Path and then browse to locate your extracted Izenda front-end Package. Point this Physical path to the App directory. In this example, that would be the Izenda\APP folder. Then, select a Port number for this site to utilize. For this example, we will leave the port number as 80.

Optionally, a user can enter a website address here into the host name box. If this is done, the user will need to go into C:\WINDOWS\System32\drivers\etc\hosts and make the following modifications to that file:

Once this setup is complete, hit the “OK” button to proceed.

This same process will need to occur to properly set up the back-end package (API) with the only difference being the port number. So, once again, the user will right click to Add Website, enter in IzendaAPI as its name, change its port to 81, and select “OK” to move on.

Now that the sites are set up, it is important to ensure these sites have the proper permissions. To set folder permissions, right click on the newly created website and select the “Edit Permissions” option from the menu to open folder properties.

In the Security tab, click the edit button to open the Permissions dialog box. Click the “Add” button to enable a new group or user name to be added, and then type IUSR (eye-user). Once you are back in the Permissions dialog box, tick the Modify checkbox for IUSR. Repeat this process and instead of IUSR, add “NETWORK SERVICE”, tick the Modify checkbox, and select “Apply”. Once this is done, click OK to close all dialogs.

Like the website setup, we will also need to do this for the other package. Select the second website, navigate to folder permissions and add IUSR. Make sure to tick the Modify checkbox prior to applying these modifications.
Now that the sites are setup properly, we need to make sure that they can communicate with each other. For this, we’ll need to update the backend API URL in the front-end package. This file is located in the App package in the file named “Izenda_config.js”. Open the file in order to edit its contents. Here, we will change the line “WebApiUrl” to point at our API site we just set up. In this example, we will relocate it to point at localhost and our API port number; 81.

There are also additional options for increased security on your newly setup site. To view those options, please refer back to the Wiki’s installation guide.

Once all of these settings and configurations have been set, IIS needs to be reset prior to launching the new site. For this, open up a Command line in Administrator mode. Once this is open, type “iisreset”. After a few moments, IIS should be reset, and your websites should be ready to open. To open a website, navigate back to IIS and select the App website. With it selected, on the right side of the screen, there should be a “Browse(PORT NUMBER)” option. Clicking this should open up an instance of Izenda in your preferred web browser.

Once this is open, we can now gather our connection string to the database we will use as Izenda’s Configuration database. Here, we can use the connection string builder, or if we know our connection string already, simply enter it in. Once in place, the user should hit the “Connect” button and if successful will be prompted back to the login page. If this happens with no errors, then we have successfully installed an independent BI Portal instance of Izenda and can begin loading in connection strings of reporting databases to begin using the self service BI Platform.

You can fully rebrand and deploy Izenda as a self-service analytics portal in less than a week. Request a free trial to see it with your own data.

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